WhatsApp’s desktop clients are here

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We knew if we waited long enough instant messaging giant WhatsApp would release desktop clients. And that day has come. You can download WhatsApp’s desktop clients for Windows or Mac here and, as you’d expect, they’re totally free.

The app is basically a standalone version of the browser version for Google Chrome we’ve been using in lieu of a desktop version. Like the browser version, the apps require that you connect them to your phone in order to send and receive messages.

Connecting the app is as easy as opening it, opening WhatsApp on your phone, choosing “WhatsApp Web” in the settings menu on your phone and scanning the QR code in the desktop client. So, yeah, exactly the same procedure as connecting to the browser version.

WhatsApp DesktopIn addition to emoji-laden text, you can use the desktop client to send existing images or videos, capture images or video with your webcam, or share documents. There’s no option to share location like there is on mobile, but that’s true of the browser version, too.

There’s also no option to make voice calls, not yet at least. We expect that’ll follow in due course, though, as it’s rapidly replacing regular calling for many people including the Stuff team. Not only because we love a bargain, but because where reception is spotty but Wi-Fi is strong it’s more reliable than regular mobile calling.

WhatsApp might be owned by Facebook, but reputedly continues to act as a fairly standalone entity. Moves like its recent decision to encrypt all messages sent by its users by default seem to attest to this. And they’re the sort of moves that make it tougher and tougher for rival services like WeChat, Telegram and Line to compete — if WhatsApp offers encryption and calling why go anywhere else?

In WeChat’s case, the answer is “payments”, but perhaps we’ll see those — and other current omissions like video calling — in WhatsApp soon enough.

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